MindSpa - Health and Wellness Science & Research.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
MindSpa will help improve sleep, reduce insomnia and stress, and enhance focus and attention.We are pioneers in the health and wellness brainwave entrainment and phototherapy fields with nearly 30 years experience developing products to help improve your quality of life.
Cancer is a vicious enemy that attacks its victims on both a physical and personal level. Standing up to this dreaded disease requires not only sound professional care but also effective self-care. In this post, we'll look at some of the common issues cancer patients face and how to manage them effectively. We'll suggest ways you can help yourself feel better right now, even in the midst of uncertainty. We'll also help you face the future by making the most of the present.
Understanding What's Going On inside Your Body
Many of the challenges cancer patients face come not only from the illness itself but from the therapies used to treat the condition. These issues can include:
● Nausea, poor appetite, and weight loss
● Fatigue and weakness
● Anxiety, fear, or depression over your diagnosis
Your healthcare professional will suggest ways to minimize these problems. In the meantime, here are some things you can do for yourself:
● Get plenty of rest. A refreshed body can fight cancer better than one that's struggling with exhaustion.
● Avoid junk food and try to eat nutritious meals.
● Spend time with those you love. Their caring support can make a world of difference during tough times.
● Consider starting a journal. Writing your feelings down on paper can help you to understand and deal with them more effectively.
Undergoing cancer treatment can be an emotional roller coaster, not only now but going forward, as pointed out by the Huffington Post. One day you feel fine; the next day, not so much. A new medicine may relieve your symptoms for a time and even put your cancer in remission. But this doesn't always last. Even long-term survivors face the prospect of their illness coming back somewhere down the road. How do you deal with this constant uncertainty? Here are some strategies:
● Live in the present as much as possible. None of us, no matter how healthy or how sick, has a guarantee of tomorrow. We can plan and dream all we want, but, in the end, all we have is right now.
● Prioritize. Some things in life are essential, others are desirable, and still others are either trivial or of minor importance. Focusing on the first two categories rather than the last may not extend our lives, but it can help us to get the most use from our time.
● Accept that controlling the future is impossible. We can take steps to avoid misfortunes and maximize our opportunities, of course. But we cannot change the inevitable. Coming to terms with this fact can spare us from needless worry and stress.
● Seek medical help only from qualified medical professionals. Despite what some people may tell you, there is no secret cure for cancer. Not only do bogus cures offer false hope, in some cases they can make your condition worse, as pointed out by the American Cancer Society.
Consider Getting a Therapy Dog
Therapy dogs can make a world of difference to how you feel, both now and in the future. Here's why:
● Nobody will show you more unconditional love than a dog. An animal will provide marvelous companionship when human company is unavailable.
● Therapy dogs can lift your spirits even when you're feeling hopeless, which is good medicine no matter how you look at it.
● Therapy dogs can help prevent falls, turn lights off and on, carry groceries, and summon help in case of emergency. And they ask for nothing in return, except affection and a little food and water.
Therapy dogs, living in the moment, eating nutritious food, and the other ideas in this post cannot cure cancer all by themselves. But they can help your body fight the disease while improving your quality of life. Please consider these suggestions as you deal with the issues before you, and accept our best wishes for a happy and abundant future.
Are you stuck in a slump? Do you find that you have the best intentions for a fitness plan only to get distracted, lazy, and not make it a priority? Are there many days when you struggle to get up and go?
We’ve all been there. Staying fit is tough. Netflix is always available. Sometimes you need a little something extra to push you toward your workout.
Let’s take a look at 25 proven and powerful ways to increase your motivation and set you up for success.
1. Determine Your Why
This is the important starting point. Why are you exercising? Do you need to strengthen your core muscles to prevent back pain? Do you suffer from depression and find running improves your mood? Is your health at risk due to your weight? Once you single out your “why” you will be able to come back to that mantra over and over when you’re tempted to throw in the towel.
If you don’t have a compelling reason for exercise, you’ll be more inclined to skip days and then give up altogether. Nail down your why first.
2. Make a Plan
Before you dive into 90 minute classes at the gym, sit down and plan. Make attainable goals. Start small. If you haven’t exercised in 3 years, don’t train for a marathon. If you set goals that are too high you will most likely become quickly discouraged and quit. Challenge yourself but be realistic.
Runners often make two goals: minimum and stretch. For example, if they are running a marathon, their minimum goal may be a 4 hour finish and their stretch goal may be a 3.5 hour finish.
Consider making a minimum and stretch goal for yourself. That will give you options if you find yourself either having great success or struggling.
3. Follow Fitness Bloggers and Instagrammers
There’s nothing is quite as motivating as seeing someone working hard and getting results. Fitness bloggers have lots of excellent advice, recipes, and tips. You’ll come to realize they’re just real people who have the same struggles as you and have overcome a lot of obstacles.
Many fitness Instagrammers share photos and videos of their workouts, which can give you guidance and inspiration.
4. Treat Yourself
Think of a way to reward yourself for diligently working out. Treating yourself to a half-pound loaded burger, fries, beer, and a shake will more than likely be counter-productive. Instead treat yourself to a small splurge.
Watch an episode of House of Cards or buy new workout clothes. Science shows that extrinsic reward is extremely powerful for motivation. Your brain connects the workout to the reward and increases the chances you’ll be consistent.
5. Track Your Progress With an App
There are countless apps out there like NIke Run Club and Runkeeper that track your miles, routes, and calories burned. Its extremely gratifying to see your “Total Miles Run” slowly grow over time.
Plus, tracking progress allows you to tell when you’re slipping and then make appropriate adjustments. If you look at your app and see that you’ve been hitting the gym less frequently, it’s a reminder that you need to get back on track.
6. Train Your Brain
This is going to be hard to believe when you’re not in a routine of exercising, but once you get into a rhythm of weekly workouts you will feel rejuvenated at the end of your workout. In time that alone will be a huge reward.
Exercise releases large amounts of serotonin, which is known as the happy hormone. It’s what gives you that euphoric feeling after an intense weight session or long run. Once your brain is accustomed to having the serotonin, you’ll begin to crave it, reinforcing your workout habit.
7. Make It Legal
This may sound crazy, but draft a document committing to doing “x” exercise for a set period of time and pay a friend ten dollars every week you don’t keep your word. In a sense, create a “binding” agreement between you and your friend that you’ll exercise, and then penalize yourself if you fail to meet the contract.
For some the money is a huge motivator. For others the potential embarrassment of having to tell your friend you didn’t workout is a stronger motivator. Whether it’s one or the other or both combined this is a strategy that will keep you in line.
Taking time to think about exercise in a positive light increases motivation. When you’re sitting on the couch debating fumbling into the pantry for the Cheetos and clicking the “Next Episode” prompt on Netflix, visualize yourself running.
Think about how good it will feel when you’re done. How invigorating the sun will be. How energized you’ll be. High performing athletes use visualization to prepare them for an activity before they do it. By visualizing your workout, your can ready both your body and brain for exercise.
9. Identify Your Obstacles
You can’t overcome an obstacle you haven’t identified. Take a minute and determine what prohibits you from following through on your plan to exercise.
Are you a night owl trying to get in a 5:30 AM workout? Rearrange your schedule. Do you feel too weak or tired to run? Guzzle down a glass of water and eat a small healthy snack to energize you. Do you hate running? Get a gym membership. Do you ate the gym? Start running.
Identifying what holds you back from exercise allows you to break down walls and get moving.
10. Create a Ritual
Rituals are a way of telling your brain that something is going to happen. By creating a pre-exercise ritual which you perform repeatedly, your brain begins to associate the ritual with working out. Once this association is formed, it becomes part of your routine and thus easier.
Start your ritual the night before. Set out your sneakers and workout clothes for spin class. Clean up things that could distract you or demand your attention the next morning. When you wake up, drink coffee and eat a healthy breakfast. Getting into a routine of some sort will train your brain to avoid excuses and keep you on task.
11. Find Your Tribe
One of the most beneficial motivators for exercise is having a workout buddy or a group of friends who you’re doing a class with. The accountability is extremely effective in increasing motivation.
You’re also much more likely to stick to an exercise regimen if someone is expecting you. Who wants to call their best friend and cancel a run at six in the morning?
12. Put It In Writing
Depending on your personality there are a couple ways to use good old fashioned pen and paper to increase motivation.
Print out a calendar and mark off every day you exercise with a big, red marker. Doesn’t that sound gratifying? Keeping a log of what you do will help you stay motivated as you see the accumulation of all you’ve done over a period of time.
13. Lower Your Expectations
It’s easy to let shaming thoughts intrude even if you are already exercising. If you want to do more or get stronger or have a hotter body or workout for an hour and a half, fine.
But if you’re squeezing in a 25 minute walk into your day and find shaming “should” thoughts creep in, stop them dead in their tracks. Tell yourself you are being healthy and doing a whole lot more than most people.
14. Appreciate Your Health
The fact that you have a healthy body and can exercise and improve your health is a tremendous gift. Take time to slow down and appreciate your health. Appreciate the fact that you can exercise. Express gratitude about being able to run or lift or do Crossfit.
Gratitude reframes working out from a duty into a privilege.
15. Stop the All or Nothing Thinking
Nothing derails a consistent workout routine like allowing yourself to be defined by a bad day. The fact that you hit the snooze today doesn’t have to mean your good intentions to stick to a program are a wash.
From there you’ll just continue to spiral downward and most likely end up quitting. One snooze doesn’t have to mean it’s going to be a bad day or bad week or a bad month. Give yourself some credit and try to do better tomorrow.
16. Get Past the Scale
The scale is an useful way to measure success, but celebrate successes beyond the scale.
Celebrate your pants fitting better. Celebrate the muscle tone in your arms. Celebrate being able to move in a flexible way that was not even remotely possible a year ago.
The scale is only one very specific metric for measuring progress. Losing weight may not even be your objective, especially if you’re doing intense weight workouts. Gather a variety of ways for celebrating progress beyond stepping on the scale.
17. Don’t Compare
Unfortunately the rise of social media has made it a whole lot easier to compare your body to other people’s. Stop.
Don’t let your mind go down the rabbit trail of self-loathing. If the skinny ultra marathon runner’s daily workout updates complete with photos is making you crazy, unfollow him.
You are chasing your own personal fitness goals, not trying to be someone else.
18. Start Your Day Right
While this is not for everyone, consider starting your day with a workout. Give it a try and set the alarm clock a little earlier to allow time for a pre-work run. You may find that once you get your butt out of bed, the energy and other rewards of a morning run outweigh that extra half hour of sleep.
Additionally, starting your day with a workout means your serotonin and dopamine levels will be high, which will put you in a positive mood for the day.
19. Workout On Monday or Friday
Studies show people start the week with high levels of motivation. You’re rested from the weekend so start the week out on a good note. You’ll feel good and be much more likely to stick with your exercise plan if you start well.
Friday is another alternative. Are you low on motivation? The week’s taken its toll? Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you know you went for that jog when it was the absolute last thing you wanted to do! This is also an effective means to keep your weekend in check and to keep weekend indulging at a minimum.
20. Take a Rest Day
Do not do the same workout every day, because you will be sure to suffer from workout burnout. Your body is not made to go go go. Take rest days or work different muscles groups. If you don’t you will be much more susceptible to injury and likely quit altogether eventually.
21. Make It Fun
Why would you workout in silence when you can speed through an audio book or a good podcast while you sweat? There’s tons of easily accessible entertainment from your smartphone. And who knows. You may even start to look forward to exercising and picking up where you left off in the most recent thriller you’re listening to. Music is an obvious choice, but keep these in mind too.
22. Read Success Stories
If you find you’re overwhelmed at the state of your health, reading the success stories of other people will be a tremendous encouragement. They were in the same shoes as you are now, but look how their hard work paid off.
23. Change It Up
Sometimes you need variety to take your fitness to the next level. If you run 3 miles 3 days a week, try doing cross-fit one day. The variety will not only keep you motivated, but your overall health will improve as you will be working different muscles.
Armed with fresh motivation for exercise, you’ll find these tips will make you more consistent and and get you on the track to health you’ve always imagined for yourself.
No one said working out would be easy. It takes discipline, hard work, and pure sweat. But by implementing these suggestions, you can significantly improve your motivation levels.
Using virtual reality therapy to improve arm and hand movement after a stroke is equally as effective as regular therapy, according to a study.
"Virtual reality training may be a motivating alternative for people to use as a supplement to their standard therapy after a stroke," said study author Iris Brunner, PhD, of Aarhus University, Hammel Neurocenter in Denmark. "Future studies could also look at whether people could use virtual reality therapy remotely from their homes, which could lessen the burden and cost of traveling to a medical center for standard therapy."
The study involved 120 people with an average age of 62 who had suffered a stroke on average about a month before the study started. All of the participants had mild to severe muscle weakness or impairment in their wrists, hands or upper arms. The participants had four to five hour-long training sessions per week for four weeks. The participants' arm and hand functioning was tested at the beginning of the study, after the training ended and again three months after the start of the study.
Half of the participants had standard physical and occupational therapy. The other half had virtual reality training that was designed for rehabilitation and could be adapted to the person's abilities. The participants used a screen and gloves with sensors to play several games that incorporated arm, hand and finger movements.
"Both groups had substantial improvement in their functioning, but there was no difference between the two groups in the results," Brunner said. "These results suggest that either type of training could be used, depending on what the patient prefers."
Brunner noted that the virtual reality system was not an immersive experience. "We can only speculate whether using virtual reality goggles or other techniques to create a more immersive experience would increase the effect of the training," she said.
Researchers have shed new light on sleep's vital role in helping us make the most of our memory.
Sleep, they show, helps us to use our memory in the most flexible and adaptable manner possible by strengthening new and old versions of the same memory to similar extents.
The researchers also demonstrate that when a memory is retrieved -- when we remember something -- it is updated with new information present at the time of remembering. The brain appears not to 'overwrite' the old version of the memory, but instead generates and stores multiple (new and old) versions of the same experience.
The results of the research, carried out at York's Sleep, Language and Memory (SLAM) Laboratory, are presented in the journal Cortex today.
Lead researcher Dr Scott Cairney of York's Department of Psychology said: "Previous studies have shown sleep's importance for memory. Our research takes this a step further by demonstrating that sleep strengthens both old and new versions of an experience, helping us to use our memories adaptively.
"In this way, sleep is allowing us to use our memory in the most efficient way possible, enabling us to update our knowledge of the world and to adapt our memories for future experiences."
In the study, two groups of subjects learned the location of words on a computer screen. In a test phase, participants were presented with each of the words in the centre of the screen and had to indicate where they thought they belonged.
One group then slept for 90 minutes while a second group remained awake before each group repeated the test. In both groups, the location recalled at the second test was closer to that recalled at the first test than to the originally-learned location, indicating that memory updating had taken place and new memory traces had been formed.
However, when comparing the sleep and wake groups directly, the locations recalled by the sleep group were closer in distance to both the updated location (i.e. previously retrieved) and the original location, suggesting that sleep had strengthened both the new and old version of the memory.
Corresponding author Professor Gareth Gaskell of York's Department of Psychology said: "Our study reveals that sleep has a protective effect on memory and facilitates the adaptive updating of memories.
"For the sleep group, we found that sleep strengthened both their memory of the original location as well as the new location. In this way, we were able to demonstrate that sleep benefits all the multiple representations of the same experience in our brain."
The researchers point out that although this process helps us by allowing our memories to adapt to changes in the world around us, it can also hinder us by incorporating incorrect information into our memory stores. Over time, our memory will draw on both accurate and inaccurate versions of the same experience, causing distortions in how we remember previous events.
The study builds on a research model created by Ken Paller, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, USA, an eminent researcher in the field of memory and a co-author on this study.
Understanding the role of the microbiome may lead to better treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's
November 16, 2017
Science Daily/Society for Neuroscience
Humans have roughly as many bacterial cells in their bodies as human cells, and most of those bacteria live in the gut. New research released today reveals links between the gut microbiome -- the population of microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal tract -- and brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, including potential new ways to track and treat these diseases.
Almost 100 trillion microbes -- some beneficial and some harmful -- live in the human gastrointestinal tract at any time, helping to regulate immune function and inflammation, two factors hypothesized to play a role in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. As brain-focused cures for such diseases remain elusive, scientists are looking to the microbiome for new insight and novel strategies.
Today's new findings show that:
· Metabolites derived from the microbiome block protein misfolding in test tubes and prevent neurodegeneration in a fly model of a disease related to Parkinson's, hinting that gut-derived metabolites may hold therapeutic promise (Lap Ho, abstract 573.23, see attached summary).
· A rat model of Parkinson's disease displays increased levels of an inflammatory protein in the colon, identifying a possible new biomarker for the disease (Doris J. M. Doudet, abstract 133.13, see attached summary).
· Nonhuman primates that received stomach injections of a protein associated with Parkinson's disease show signs of the disease in their brains, revealing that pathology can spread from the gut to the brain (Erwan Bezard, abstract 131.02, see attached summary).
· A gene associated with risk for Alzheimer's disease influences the gut microbiome of mice, potentiating a novel treatment strategy (Ishita Parikh, abstract 476.02, see attached summary).
· Probiotic treatment corrects memory problems in an Alzheimer's mouse model, suggesting that altering the microbiome may help delay the disease (Harpreet Kaur, abstract 126.23, see attached summary).
"The results presented today add to the growing body of evidence showing the influence of the gut on the brain and the crucial relationship between the two," said press conference moderator Tracy Bale, PhD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Center for Brain Development and Maternal Mental Health. "Targeting the gut introduces a different and promising angle to tackle brain disorders across the lifespan."
A memory complaint, also called Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD), is a subjective disorder that appears to be relatively common, especially in elderly persons
November 13, 2017
Science Daily/IOS Press
A memory complaint, also called Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD), is a subjective disorder that appears to be relatively common, especially in elderly persons. The reports of its prevalence in various populations range from approximately 10% to as high as 88%, although it is generally thought that the prevalence of everyday memory problems lie within the range of 25% to 50%.
The McNair and Kahn Scale or Cognitive Difficulties Scale was employed to define and characterize cognitive complaints in the GuidAge study, involving a population of more than 2800 individuals aged 70 years or older having voluntarily complained of memory problems to their general practitioner (GPs). It contains items that are related to difficulties in attention, concentration, orientation, memory, praxis, domestic activities and errands, facial recognition, task efficiency, and name finding.
The results of the GuidAge study suggest that the assessment of cognitive complaint voluntarily reported to primary-care physicians, by the McNair and Kahn scale can predict a decline in cognitive performance, as 5 items out of 20 were statistically significant.
These 5 items are:
· item 1, "I hardly remember usual phone numbers",
· item 5, "I forget appointment, dates, where I store things",
· item 6, "I forget to call people back when they called me",
· item 10, "I forget the day of the week",
· item 13, "I need to have people repeat instructions several times."
Thanks to this short scale GPs, in clinical practice, can identify which patients with memory complaints should be referred to a memory center to assess cognitive functions.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may put elderly people at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to new research.
In "Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity Affects Amyloid Burden in Cognitively Normal Elderly: A Longitudinal Study," researchers report that biomarkers for amyloid beta (A?), the plaque-building peptides associated with Alzheimer's disease, increase over time in elderly adults with OSA in proportion to OSA severity. Thus, individuals with more apneas per hour had greater accumulation of brain amyloid over time.
According to the authors, AD is a neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts approximately five million older Americans. OSA is even more common, afflicting from 30 to 80 percent of the elderly, depending on how OSA is defined.
"Several studies have suggested that sleep disturbances might contribute to amyloid deposits and accelerate cognitive decline in those at risk for AD," said Ricardo S. Osorio, MD, senior study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine.
"However, so far it has been challenging to verify causality for these associations because OSA and AD share risk factors and commonly coexist."
He added that the purpose of this study was to investigate the associations between OSA severity and changes in AD biomarkers longitudinally, specifically whether amyloid deposits increase over time in healthy elderly participants with OSA.
The study included 208 participants, age 55 to 90, with normal cognition as measured by standardized tests and clinical evaluations. None of the participants was referred by a sleep center, used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to treat sleep apnea, was depressed, or had a medical condition that might affect their brain function. The researchers performed lumbar punctures (LPs) to obtain participants' cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) soluble A? levels, and then used positron emission tomography, or PET, to measure A? deposits directly in the brain in a subset of participants.
The study found that more than half the participants had OSA, including 36.5 percent with mild OSA and 16.8 percent with moderate to severe OSA. From the total study sample, 104 participated in a two-year longitudinal study that found a correlation between OSA severity and a decrease in CSF A?42 levels over time. The authors said this finding is compatible with an increase in amyloid deposits in the brain; the finding was confirmed in the subset of participants who underwent amyloid PET, which showed an increase in amyloid burden in those with OSA.
Surprisingly, the study did not find that OSA severity predicted cognitive deterioration in these healthy elderly adults. Andrew Varga, MD, PhD, study coauthor and a physician specializing in sleep medicine and neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said this finding suggests that these changes were occurring in the preclinical stages of AD.
"The relationship between amyloid burden and cognition is probably nonlinear and dependent on additional factors," he added. This study finding may also be attributable to the study's relatively short duration, highly educated participants and use of tests that fail to discern changes in cognitive abilities that are subtle or sleep-dependent, the authors wrote.
The high prevalence of OSA the study found in these cognitively normal elderly participants and the link between OSA and amyloid burden in these very early stages of AD pathology, the researchers believe, suggest the CPAP, dental appliances, positional therapy and other treatments for sleep apnea could delay cognitive impairment and dementia in many older adults.
"Results from this study, and the growing literature suggesting that OSA, cognitive decline and AD are related, may mean that age tips the known consequences of OSA from sleepiness, cardiovascular, and metabolic dysfunction to brain impairment," Dr. Osorio said. "If this is the case, then the potential benefit of developing better screening tools to diagnose OSA in the elderly who are often asymptomatic is enormous."
'Maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline'
November 1, 2017
Science Daily/Northwestern University
Maintaining positive, warm and trusting friendships might be the key to a slower decline in memory and cognitive functioning, according to a new study. SuperAgers -- who are 80 years of age and older who have cognitive ability at least as good as people in their 50s or 60s -- reported having more satisfying, high-quality relationships compared to their cognitively average, same-age peers, the study reports
SuperAgers -- who are 80 years of age and older who have cognitive ability at least as good as people in their 50s or 60s -- reported having more satisfying, high-quality relationships compared to their cognitively average, same-age peers, the study reports.
Previous SuperAger research at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has focused on the biological differences in SuperAgers, such as discovering that the cortex in their brain is actually larger than their cognitively average, same-age peers. This study, published Oct. 23 in the journal PLOS ONE, was the first to examine the social side of SuperAgers.
"You don't have the be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline," said senior author Emily Rogalski, associate professor at Northwestern's CNADC.
Participants answered a 42-item questionnaire called the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale, which is a widely used measure of psychological well-being. The scale examines six aspects of psychological well-being: autonomy, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life and self-acceptance. SuperAgers scored a median overall score of 40 in positive relations with others while the control group scored 36 -- a significant difference, Rogalski said.
"This finding is particularly exciting as a step toward understanding what factors underlie the preservation of cognitive ability in advanced age, particularly those that may be modifiable," said first author Amanda Cook, a clinical neuropsychology doctoral student in the laboratory of Rogalski and Sandra Weintraub.
Other research studies have reported a decline in social networks in people with Alzheimer's disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and previous literature has shown psychological well-being in older age to be associated with reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia.
"It's not as simple as saying if you have a strong social network, you'll never get Alzheimer's disease," Rogalski said. "But if there is a list of healthy choices one can make, such as eating a certain diet and not smoking, maintaining strong social networks may be an important one on that list. None of these things by themself guarantees you don't get the disease, but they may still have health benefits."
Brain study suggests mind wandering at work and home may not be as bad as you might think
October 24, 2017
Science Daily/Georgia Institute of Technology
A new study suggests that daydreaming during meetings isn't necessarily a bad thing. It might be a sign that you're really smart and creative. People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.
"People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering," said Eric Schumacher, the Georgia Tech associate psychology professor who co-authored the study.
Schumacher and his students and colleagues, including lead co-author Christine Godwin, measured the brain patterns of more than 100 people while they lay in an MRI machine. Participants were instructed to focus on a stationary fixation point for five minutes. The Georgia Tech team used the data to identify which parts of the brain worked in unison.
"The correlated brain regions gave us insight about which areas of the brain work together during an awake, resting state," said Godwin, a Georgia Tech psychology Ph.D. candidate.
"Interestingly, research has suggested that these same brain patterns measured during these states are related to different cognitive abilities."
Once they figured out how the brain works together at rest, the team compared the data with tests the participants that measured their intellectual and creative ability. Participants also filled out a questionnaire about how much their mind wandered in daily life.
Those who reported more frequent daydreaming scored higher on intellectual and creative ability and had more efficient brain systems measured in the MRI machine.
"People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can't," said Schumacher. "Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn't always true. Some people have more efficient brains."
Schumacher says higher efficiency means more capacity to think, and the brain may mind wander when performing easy tasks.
How can you tell if your brain is efficient? One clue is that you can zone in and out of conversations or tasks when appropriate, then naturally tune back in without missing important points or steps.
"Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor -- someone who's brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings," said Schumacher. "Or school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming."
Godwin and Schumacher think the findings open the door for follow-up research to further understand when mind wandering is harmful, and when it may actually be helpful.
"There are important individual differences to consider as well, such as a person's motivation or intent to stay focused on a particular task," said Godwin.
Stress, fatigue, and feeling like your memory is failing you. These are the symptoms of a growing group of patients. Result – They may need help, but they are rarely entering the initial stages of dementia.
"We are seeing a growing number of people who are seeking help because of self-perceived cognitive problems, but have no objective signs of disease despite thorough investigation," says Marie Eckerström, doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology and licensed psychologist at the Memory Unit of Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
The influx of this particular group of patients, which currently represents one-third of the individuals who come to the unit, has increased the need for knowledge of who they are. In her work, Marie Eckerström followed a few hundred of them, both women and men, over an average of four years.
They are usually highly educated professionals who are relatively young in this context, between the ages of 50 and 60. When tested at the hospital, their memory functions are intact. But, in their everyday environment where they are under pressure to constantly learn new things, they think things just are not working right.
The correlation between self-perceived memory problems and stress proved to be strong. Seven out of ten in the group had experiences of severe stress, clinical burnout, or depression.
"We found that problems with stress were very common. Patients often tell us they are living or have lived with severe stress for a prolonged period of time and this has affected their cognitive functions to such an extent that they feel like they are sick and are worried about it. In some cases, this is combined with a close family member with dementia, giving the patient more knowledge but also increasing their concern," says Marie Eckerström.
The memory unit investigates suspicions of the early stages of dementia in those who seek help. Research is conducted in parallel to this.
"We primarily investigate suspected dementia. If we are able to rule this out, then the patient does not remain with us. But, there are not so many places such patients can turn and they seem to fall between the cracks."
Perceived memory problems are common and may be an early sign of future development of dementia. For those in the studied group who also had deviating biomarkers in their cerebrospinal fluid (beta-amyloid, total-tau and phospho-tau), the risk of deteriorating and developing dementia was more than double. However, the majority demonstrated no signs of deterioration after four years.
"These individuals have no objective signs of dementia. The issue instead is usually stress, anxiety or depression," says Marie Eckerström.
One out of ten with only self-perceived memory problems developed dementia during the investigated period. According to Marie Eckerström, this is a higher percentage than the population in general, but is still low.
"It is not a matter of just anyone who has occasional memory problems in everyday life. It is more a matter of individuals who sought medical attention to investigate whether they are developing serious problems," states Marie Eckerström.